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Anime is colorful. It has voice and music. It contains tens of thousands of frames. It requires advanced computer software and high level of technology.

On the other hand, manga is nothing but a drawing with pen and pencil.

I would expect manga to be produced faster than anime under these conditions. However, it appears to be not the case. In most long running series, anime eventually catches up to the manga.

Is it because the mangakas are lazy, or is there another reason behind this?

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    It's one mangaka versus a team. In many cases, the mangaka also has to come up with the story, which the anime production team can just pick up and follow.
    – Gao
    Mar 9, 2015 at 8:43
  • Why don't mangakas make a team? Mar 9, 2015 at 9:30
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    Sometimes they do make a small team (see Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun for example), but I guess usually one person suffices. It probably has to do with cost and quality control (different mangakas have different styles). Once in a while, you do get a thousand people to (re)-draw a volume of a manga.
    – Gao
    Mar 9, 2015 at 9:46
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    An episode of anime can contain 2 or more chapter and sometime skip some chapter. Mar 9, 2015 at 10:55
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    Dude, even hinting pro mangaka to be lazy...
    – Mindwin
    Mar 9, 2015 at 22:36

4 Answers 4

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Mangas are usually written by one person, called the mangaka. The mangaka has to come up with creative ideas, original scenery, character expressions and dialogues while making sure that the story flow is coherent and planning ahead to pick up the story in the next chapter and see if he/she can take it from there. The mangaka first has to draw everything in frames of various sizes (some of which are very difficult to fill due to abnormal proportions [to create effects]), outlines everything and then fills in the ink. Sometimes the mangaka even has to come up with a color cover page/chapter.

Anime production houses employ many individuals who don't have to work around the clock all the time (shifts reduce workloads on individual employees). They already have most of the original artwork from the manga, and they simply have to digitize it and add vibrant colors (not that it isn't difficult). Most voice recordings are done prior to the final graphical rendering. The mangaka is more likely to be pressurized when trying to meet the next week deadline than anime production houses, because a shortage of ideas is a disaster for the manga but easy to deal with in the anime (just adding a filler often makes it up, regardless of the quality of the content). This means that the mangaka prefers to spend a little more time on the story to think and draw more carefully.

The list goes on and on, but for the sake simplicity, I've decided to end it here. Just a side note that most mangakas work an average of about 18 hours a day (almost no days off), which can't really be characterized as lazy.

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    Pro mangaka doesn't necessarily work alone. They may hire assistants to help them with background, inking, etc. The mangaka themselves have to come up with the story and the layout, though (character design also, but it is not part of the tasks have to be done every chapter).
    – nhahtdh
    Mar 9, 2015 at 11:19
  • Also, anime have a big component of reused stuff. First of all, op & ed. Second, lot of background scenes. On a manga, you normally doesn't see reused stuff, or, at least, they have tiny changes. Also, some anime rely on computer modeling of the characters, because of this, making movement of a character are very simply after modeling these character on the adequate program (And it's a work you do at first, and reuse on all animation process). Mar 9, 2015 at 22:23
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A 20-page manga chapter takes a week to produce. And based on the dialogue at the beginning of Shirobako episode 10, given that the script and the storyboard are already complete, 5 weeks is considered a very tight schedule to produce a single anime episode, and 2 months (8 weeks?) is normal. That's not faster than manga. The reason a long running anime can air an episode every week is because they have bigger staff, and the whole process is in a pipeline so they don't wait until the current episode is over to start on the next episode. For example, the animators work on the next episode while the background artists work on the parts the animators just finished.

Anime adaptations catching up to their source material has more to do with the density of the source material as it's produced. For instance, it might take just 4 minutes to read a chapter of BLEACH as it uses large panels that eat up the page count, but the anime has to cover 20+ minutes so they'll adapt 5 chapters. This may be attributed to style, laziness, or the profit the creators get from dragging out a series, if you must.

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  • I think you nailed it with the pipeline work process and the adaptation of 5 manga chapters in 1 anime episode.
    – Gao
    Mar 22, 2015 at 13:55
  • To emphasise your point, anime that adapt the manga at a slower rate (say, 1 or 2 chapters per episode) often end up with glacially slow pacing. The archetypal example is Dragon Ball Z.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 20 at 14:59
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Essentially mangaka are just inefficient.

This was especially highlighted to me when reading some Chinese comics, where a fast one releases two chapters nearly every day. In color.

You could step in and remove the inefficiencies, but the root cause is that a lot of mangaka reach a point where their story is going nowhere and they reach that point relatively fast.

When that happens, either the mangaka has enough clout to go on hiatus or he hasn't and someone steps in to tell him how to continue the story. Usually by turning it into something formulaic, copying the formula of another ongoing popular work.

A solution would be for manga to copy anime and favor adaptations instead of original works, since if the story is already there, all the inefficiencies could be fixed.

But I guess the way things are everything is still profitable, so no one sees the need to fix the supposed problem.

I'm guessing that the manga industry will be steamrolled by the manhua industry (the Chinese comics) in the next two decades, simply because they release new things faster. So while you wait for the next chapter of your favorite manga, you can read a couple of thousand chapters of a bunch of manhua to pass the time waiting.

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  • I don't follow much manhua so regarding the manhua with releases twice a day, are these full length chapters? i.e. 19 pages a pop i.e. the standard length of a weekly manga chapter? (I believe most manhua I've come across are done as webtoons which makes page count tough to gauge). I'm not a mangaka or anything but from interviews and such it seems 19 pages a week every week is grueling work, I can't imagine doing 14x19 pages a week being feasible.
    – Gatchwar
    Jun 21 at 18:08
  • @Gatchwar it seems by now there are manhua that release three full chapters a day, like Martial Peak. It's created for smartphones in mind, so there's infinite scroll and no pages. But I guess it's around 12-18 pages per chapter if you convert it.
    – Ocean
    Jun 22 at 10:48
  • @Gatchwar it is grueling work because mangaka work so inefficiently. For example, they pay too much attention to irrelevant details like backgrounds, while the Chinese just copy paste assets in the background. Manga are higher quality for that reason, but it doesn't really matter if you just want the story and not have to wait ten to thirty years for it to finish. Less is more.
    – Ocean
    Jun 22 at 10:51
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Anime actually take months and months to create. That's why the seasons(spring,winter,fall,and summer)come in handy.Every week they edit it and maybe voice acting. So anime actually takes longer to create then manga

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